‘Versatile’ Kutz energizes Hornets

by Mark Oliver

Maumelle senior forward Tyren Kutz isn’t your typical basketball player. Unlike most of his teammates, Kutz only started playing competitive basketball in 10th grade.

“Between my freshman and sophomore years, I grew six inches to 6-foot-3,” Kutz said. “Because of my size, my grandparents and the basketball team pushed me to give it a try, and I ended up making the team.”

Unexperienced, the senior gained hardcourt knowledge through uncommon methods.

“Growing up, I knew about basketball and the strategy that it involved, but I had to work my way up to get to my talent level,” Kutz said. “I watched basketball on TV — Duke and the Oklahoma City Thunder. I watched Anthony Davis, who is a huge role model for me. I played a lot of basketball video games — anything I could do to learn the game.”

Kutz was selected to this year’s 501 Basketball Team — 34 players representing the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the court. The senior was nominated by his head coach, Michael Shook. The team is sponsored by First Security Bank and First Service Bank.

“Tyren is a great asset to the team and is a versatile player who can play multiple positions,” Shook wrote in his nomination. “He runs the floor, rebounds, hustles and shoots well from mid-range. He works hard, communicates well, understands our team’s best interests and unselfishly motivates his teammates.”

Through his first two seasons with the Hornets, Kutz enjoyed great success — reaching the Class 5A title game in back-to-back years.

“Over the past two years, I’ve grown into a good role-player for our team,” Kutz said. “I’m a cleanup guy who can come off the bench and bring energy to our team and help them play at their fastest pace to achieve success. Last year, I worked my way into a bigger role and was able to contribute several significant minutes to our team. This year, I’ve continued to expand on that — fighting and working harder to be the best I can be for my team.”

Falling short of the prize in consecutive seasons, Kutz says that losing only motivated his team to push harder.

“This week, we qualified for the Class 5A state tournament,” Kutz said. “With the offensive and defensive weapons we have, we’re a better team than we were in the past two years. We’re on a good pace to get back to where we need to be. If we can continue to build our team chemistry, we’re capable of anything.”

Win or lose, Kutz says his final year with Maumelle will be his favorite.

“Coming from where we started, this year has exceeded expectations in many ways,” Kutz said. “I’ve worked hard to improve my overall game and have won a couple of starting opportunities as a result. As a team, we’ve all become better friends and developed better chemistry this year. I’ve gotten to build bonds with people I never thought I would. Because of that, I feel like I’ve helped my teammates become better people on and off the court.”

Kutz serves as Maumelle’s Student Council President and is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, FCCLA and is a school ambassador at Maumelle High School.

“Tyren is willing to help anyone,” Shook wrote. “He is friendly, smart and has good communication skills. He is involved with many clubs and activities, makes good grades, volunteers and gets along with everyone.”

In the 501, Kutz is a member of TRIBE at New Life Church in North Little Rock.

“New Life Church has become a big part of my life,” Kutz said. “They’ve turned me into a believer, and it has helped me build a positive outlook for my life. Through serving and preaching, I’ve made a lot of friends and created new bonds. I look forward to pressing on with the hopes that I will be in heaven one day.”

After high school, the senior plans to attend college through his church.

“I’ve talked to God, and He is telling me to stay close to home,” Kutz said. “Starting next year, I’ll pursue Christian studies at Ouachita Baptist University through New Life Church’s Conway campus. In the future, I hope to become a youth pastor.”

Kutz values the opportunity to grow the youth in his community.

“By staying close to home, I can come back to Maumelle High School to volunteer and be a part of their program as a youth coach,” Kutz said. “However, I want to do more than just drawing X’s and O’s. I want to give younger people a role model for their future. Growing up, I lived with my grandparents and I never had a father figure in my life. Then, I met Coach Shook. He loves us, cares for us and has always tried to help us become better men, and I’m thankful for that.”